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2008 Honda Civic Si

2008 Civic Si Sedan spins off limited-edition Si Mugen
By Bob Plunkett

Strap aboard, but cinch that racing helmet tightly because we're firing up for hot laps on the track with a racy factory-prepared special issue Civic from American Honda Motor Company.

The 2008 Honda Civic Si Sedan looks serious in a sleek aero-kit package with the flush front air dam, side spoilers, a rear bumper diffuser and tail spoiler.

2008 Civic Si MugenIt stocks serious equipment too, such as a high-performance suspension with springs that pare the ride height 0.6 inches closer to the pavement. The vehicle also includes a helical-type limited slip differential, sports exhaust system and four lightweight Mugen forged aluminum wheels with high-grip BFGoodrich g-Force KDW P215/45R1787V performance tires.

In addition to the 2008 Civic Si Sedan, Honda is rolling out a special badge highlighting the tilt toward performance with front and rear emblems by Mugen — a name symbolizing Honda fast-lane car performance. What does that give us?

The 2008 Honda Civic Mugen Si Sedan, which will be available in limited-production numbers of only 1,000 units this year.

Honda's rakish long and tall Civic Si hatchback coupe, enriched by sporty drive manners and a high-tech aluminum engine, cast off the four-door Si Sedan version last year.

Back again for 2008, the four-door Civic Si wears unique body parts with a thin wing topping the rear deck and aero cladding on the nose and tail. The five-seat cockpit carries sport buckets up front, which have big side bolsters and bold red fabric stitching for accent.

The Civic Si is the namesake of a former Civic hatchback, which was souped, slammed and sparked with nitrous-oxide elixirs among street-racing daredevils. The name traces to 1984 in Honda lore with the introduction of the Civic S hatchback. When fuel injection was added in 1986, the badge became Si. Other Honda innovations followed, including the first North American application of Honda's wizardry of valve control.

The last Si issues appeared in 2002 following the 2001 introduction of a seventh-generation platform for Civic's sedan and coupe.

However, in 2006 Honda brought out the eighth generation of designs for its best-selling Civic, featuring a longer and wider package with the wheelbase stretched by 1.5 inches. The Civic Si coupe treatment quickly followed, and at the 2006 Specialty Equipment Market Association's (SEMA) show Honda unveiled a number of cool ideas to build depth beneath the Si plate.

2008 Honda Civic Si Mugen- RearThe first of these ideas on the market was the Si Sedan. However, at this time Honda also unveiled its 2008 Civic Si Mugen Sedan prototype and a Honda Factory Performance (HFP) Si Sedan. The HFP package has high-performance springs that shorten ride height by 0.5 inches and reduce the vehicle's roll center. Also, high-performance dampers improve the handling traits and body roll.

The 2008 Civic Si Mugen Sedan also scores the high-performance suspension elements of the HFP package, along with a full-vehicle aero-package that attaches a front spoiler with sports grille, spoilers on both flanks and rear wing.

In the cabin, a Mugen Limited Edition placard mounts on the center console above the shifter stick, which holds a spherical 50-mm Mugen aluminum shift knob. Also, a serial-number placard goes to the instrument panel.

With a maximum of 1,000 units for 2008, the Civic Si Mugen Sedan brings a MSRP of less than $30,000 including a full factory warranty. It comes in only one body paint color — Fiji Blue Pearl.

The Civic Si doesn't have cramped quarters despite being a compact-car. Also, a sharp cant to the windshield on the inside carves out a deep dash, which adds inches of interior space. Honda took advantage of this extra room by designing a twin-deck instrument panel.

Immediately ahead of the steering wheel is the near section containing a large analog tachometer and odometer with trip meter. Further ahead of the steering wheel — and within the driver's line-of-sight — is the instrument panel.

2008 Honda Civic Si Mugen- Dual Bucket SeatsThis crescent-shaped area houses the vivid digital speedometer and gauges for fuel level and engine temperature. Seat layout for the cabin is conventional, with dual buckets up front and a bench for three in back. Front buckets are separated by a floor-mounted console with space for the transmission's gear stick and storage space for several cups, a collection of CDs and pocket change.

A center stack near the console tilts toward the windshield and houses audio and climate gear. Air bags are poised around the passenger compartment. The standard issue includes frontal air bags for front seats, front torso side air bags and curtain-style air bags.

Fast-stop strength stems from a round of disc brakes rigged with four-piston brake calipers. An anti-lock brake system (ABS) is also included. The powertrain for Civic Si Sedan and the Mugen edition is quite special. The dual-cam four-in-line engine displaces 2.0 liters, employing a drive-by-wire throttle and Honda's special i-VTEC (variable value timing and lift electronic control) valvetrain to precisely manage engine breathing and combustion.

The plant generates 197 horsepower at 7,800 rpm plus torque of 139 lb-ft at 6,100 rpm. The sole transmission is a close-ratio six-speed manual shifter tied with the helical-type limited slip differential.

2008 Honda Civic Si Sedan

Description: Compact four-door sedan
Model options: Civic Si Sedan, Civic Si Mugen Sedan
Wheelbase: 106.3 inches
Overall length: Si Sedan — 176.7 inches, Si Mugen — 177.8 inches
Engine size: DOHC 2.0-L I4/i-VTEC
Transmissions/speeds: Manual/6
Rear/front drive: Front
Steering: Electric power rack and pinion
Braking: Power 4-disc, ABS/EBD
Air bags: 2 (front), 2 (side), 4 (side curtain)
EPA mileage: 21 mpg for city/29 mpg for hwy
MSRP: Si Sedan — $21,110, Si Mugen — $29,500